Irene hits North Carolina

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:37 PM GMT on August 27, 2011

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Hurricane Irene roared ashore over Cape Lookout, North Carolina at 7:30 am this morning. The Cedar Island Ferry Terminal measured sustained winds of 90 mph, gusting to 110 mph at 7:19am, and a trained spotter on Atlantic Beach measured sustained winds of 85 mph, gusting to 101 mph at 10:35 am. The Hurricane Hunters measured 80 mph winds over water at the time of landfall. Winds at the Cape Lookout, North Carolina buoy, which the eye passed directly over, peaked at 67 mph as Irene made landfall. At 10am EDT, top winds observed at Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina were 53 mph, gusting to 73 mph. Winds are rising now along the coast of Virginia, with sustained winds of 56 mph, gusting to 62 mph observed at 10 am EDT at Chesapeake Bay Light. Satellite loops show a large but deteriorating storm with dry air intruding to the southwest. The radar presentation of Irene visible on the Norfolk, VA radar is very impressive--Irene is dropping torrential rains over a huge area.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation from Irene as of 12:18 pm EDT August 27, 2011. An expanding region of rains in excess of ten inches (pick colors) was observed north of where the center made landfall.

Storm surge damage from Irene
The storm surge and wave action from Irene is likely to cause the greatest damage, and this will be a historic coastal flooding event for many regions of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A storm surge of 8.5 feet was reported this morning in North Harlow, NC, and three feet in New Bern, NC. Significant wave heights (the average height of the largest 1/3 of the waves) reached 27 feet at Onslow Bay, NC this morning, and wave heights along the New Jersey shore Sunday morning during the time of high tide are expected to be 15 - 20 feet, according to the NOAA Wavewatch III model (Figure 2.) A storm surge of 3 - 6 feet is expected near Atlantic City, NJ Sunday morning, during the time of high tide. With 15 - 20 foot waves expected on top of this storm surge, there will be tremendous damage to the coast and low-lying structures. Storm surge is also a major concern for New York City. The latest NWS forecast is calling for a 5 - 8 foot storm surge in New York Harbor, which would easily top the flood walls protecting the south end of Manhattan if the storm surge occurs at high tide. High tide is near 8 am Sunday morning. A research storm surge model run by SUNY Stonybrook predicts that water levels at The Battery at the south end of Manhattan will peak at 2.2 meters above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) at high tide Sunday morning, which would be about six inches below the top of the flood wall (which is 5 feet above mean sea level.) Waves on top of the surge would likely spill over the top of the floodwall in this scenario, and cause some flooding in southern Manhattan. Andy Revkin's Dot Earth blog has links to a storm surge animation for New York City done by the SUNY Stonybrook group. Climate Central has a nice satellite image showing which parts of New York Harbor are below five feet in elevation. Storm surge heights of up to eight feet are predicted in Western Long Island Sound, and 3 - 6 feet along much of the New England coast from New York to Massachusetts. This is going to be a damaging coastal flooding event for this stretch of coast, though perhaps not as damaging as the one New Jersey will experience.


Figure 2. Predicted wave heights along the U.S. coast from NOAA's Wavewatch III model for 8am EDT Sunday, August 28, 2011. This is the time of high tide, and this model is suggesting that the coast of New Jersey will be subject to battering waves 15 - 20 feet high at the time of high tide.

Inland flooding damage from Irene
Inland flash flooding and river flooding from torrential rains are a major concern. Latest radar-estimated rainfall amounts in North Carolina already exceed ten inches in some locations. Cedar Island, NC has reported 7.21" as of 11am EDT, and a 100 mile-wide swath of 8+ inches of rain will likely fall from Eastern North Carolina northwards along the coast, through New York City, and into Vermont and New Hampshire during the next two days. Destructive river flooding will be a significant danger from New Jersey northwards to Southeast New York, where soils are saturated and run-off will be the greatest.


Figure 3. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 9:30 am EDT Saturday August 27, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters, land stations, and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had all of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 260 miles from the center of Irene. Irene's storm surge damage potential has dropped to 4.3 on a scale of 0 to 6, down from a high of 5.1 yesterday. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Wind damage
Irene is slowly deteriorating, but the storm is too large to weaken quickly. The latest wind distribution map from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 3) shows that all of Irene's hurricane-force winds are on the storm's east side, so only North Carolina's Outer Banks will get winds of 75 - 80 mph. The coast from Virginia northwards through New Jersey will see tropical storm-force winds of 50 - 70 mph from Irene. These strong winds, when combined with the torrential rains that are falling, will cause widespread tree damage and power failures that will affect millions of people. When Irene makes its 2nd landfall on Long Island, NY on Sunday, coastal locations to the right of the eye will likely experience top sustained winds of 60 -70 mph.

Lady Liberty not in danger from Irene
The Statue of Liberty is not vulnerable to a storm surge, since the good lady stands atop a 65-foot high foundation and 89-foot high granite pedestal. However, the 305' height of the lady's torch above the foundation means the statue will experience winds a full Saffir-Simpson category higher than winds at the surface. The statue is rated to survive a wind load of 58 psf, which is roughly equivalent to 120 mph winds (Category 3 hurricane). However, a mid-strength Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds will be able to generate 120 mph winds at a height of 300 feet, and would theoretically be capable of toppling the Statue of Liberty. Winds from Irene should stay below 80 mph at 300 feet, and not pose a threat to the Statue of Liberty.

Tornadoes
Two tornadoes were reported in coastal North Carolina last night. One tornado destroyed 2 homes and damaged 6 others in Columbia, with several minor injuries, and the other hit Belhaven, damaging multiple trailers. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a slight risk of severe weather along coast Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware today. We might see five or ten tornadoes from Irene over the next two days, but the atmosphere is not unstable enough for Irene to generate as many tornadoes as we're used to seeing from a landfalling hurricane. A tornado watch is posted for coastal areas from Eastern North Carolina northwards to Southern New Jersey.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene, 60% in the Bahamas.

Typhoon Nanmadol
Over in the Western Pacific, Typhoon Nanmadol has weakened to a Category 3 storm after battering the Philippines as a Category 4 super typhoon with 155 mph winds. At least two people have been killed in the heavy flooding there. Nanmadol is a threat to Taiwan, and Wunderground meteorologist Elaine Yang (who hails from Taiwan), has the details in her blog.

Links
Our Weather Historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an excellent post on Historic Hurricanes from New Jersey to New England.

Joe Romm at climateprogress.org has a thoughtful piece called, How Does Global Warming Make Hurricanes Like Irene More Destructive?

For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Jeff Masters

Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas (ktbahamas)
Downed street light broken by strong gusts of Irene.
Aftremath of Hurricane Irene in Nassau, Bahamas
Battery Park, the night before Irene... (line)
Battery Park, the night before Irene...

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Quoting Levi32:


You're right - I haven't looked at anything else lol. TD 10 came and went and when I went to click record on my video this morning I was like what....where'd the tropical depression go? Lol. All I have done is glanced at the 7-15 day ensemble forecasts, which show anomalous ridging continuing over southeast Canada, which is a landfall threat pattern for the east coast, but there are also a couple troughs that progress through the pattern, so timing of the troughs and development of any systems will determine whether they recurve east of North America. I'll get more into that when Irene is gone.

haha alright thanx and will the gulf coast be at risk anytime soon because so far this season nothing really made it into the gulf (arlene was in the BOC and don was just a WEAK tropical system) it seems at the moment the pattern is a US East Coast threat from Miami to Maine but there are the troughs and timing is extremely important like it was with Irene :)
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1032. o22sail
Quoting o22sail:


I've been on this blog for almost 6 years to the day, just before the "K" storm. I've seen trolls of every description here, and for some reason I believe her. You can too.

Happy anniversary to me!
It has been six years...to the day. Fancy that.
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1031. Patrap






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Quoting howardnyc:
here's something you don't see everyday


Grand Central Station? Unreal.
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Quoting Krycek1984:


Maybe the rest of the story is true, who knows. If it is true then I wish the best for the Grandma. The whole bodies floating thing is too much though. I kind of believed her until she typed that. It really riled me up. We've seen no other coverage even hinting at bodies floating in the water. What a terrible lie and rumour to spread. That's how destructive rumors start. Remember all the rumors started around Katrina?

Who knows. Maybe there are bodies floating in the water. This isn't Katrina, though. To be perfectly frank, in this instance, it would be more likely that the bodies would be pulled back out to sea and then re-deposited.



Exactly. And, as I said, as someone who has family that lives near this alleged incident, I don't appreciate it. If it turns out to be true, I will eat my humble pie.
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Quoting unruly:
I will be ok. It's my neighbors, I'm worried about. They don't seem to well prepared. They all think its just gonna be a little rain. Ive tried telling them. They don't heed.


Yeah, can't teach some, they just have to live it to learn. Been too long since a 'cane up there - '91? And that may not have affected your area that much.
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1025. Levi32
Quoting wunderweatherman123:
hey levi i know your focused on irene right now but do you know what the steering flow would be in the next 8 to 10 days from the euro and gfs because models develop a storm but i wannna know based on the euro and gfs steering flow where it should go. thanks


You're right - I haven't looked at anything else lol. TD 10 came and went and when I went to click record on my video this morning I was like what....where'd the tropical depression go? Lol. All I have done is glanced at the 7-15 day ensemble forecasts, which show anomalous ridging continuing over southeast Canada, which is a landfall threat pattern for the east coast, but there are also a couple troughs that progress through the pattern, so timing of the troughs and development of any systems will determine whether they recurve east of North America. I'll get more into that when Irene is gone.
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How is Irene still at 950 mb? This is just weird... Its driving me nuts how weird Irene is!
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Quoting o22sail:


I've been on this blog for almost 6 years to the day, just before the "K" storm. I've seen trolls of every description here, and for some reason I believe her. You can too.


Maybe the rest of the story is true, who knows. If it is true then I wish the best for the Grandma. The whole bodies floating thing is too much though. I kind of believed her until she typed that. It really riled me up. We've seen no other coverage even hinting at bodies floating in the water. What a terrible lie and rumour to spread. That's how destructive rumors start. Remember all the rumors started around Katrina?

Who knows. Maybe there are bodies floating in the water. This isn't Katrina, though. To be perfectly frank, in this instance, it would be more likely that the bodies would be pulled back out to sea and then re-deposited.

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I would have been more inclined to believe her without the stories of bodies floating by. That and there are zero reports from what I have seen of water rescues from roofs. Plenty of wading water rescues, but nothing of this serverity.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Models with Irene were too far south at first, I wonder if the models with this wave may be a little too far north?

I hope not, a Category 4/5 hurricane is not in my agenda for the first week of September.

agreed the thing didnt even develop so track will be different every run. once the wave develops then we could try to pinpoint where it goes
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here's something you don't see everyday. grand central station.



(i did not take this photo, nor did i originate it, so i can't vouch for it actually being snapped today. but it is pretty cool anyway.)

the traffic cams from around the city are a trip too, light rain at the moment, minimal traffic. a decent number of pedestrians in times square.

eta: legit photo. from the metropolitan transit authority website mta.info
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Models with Irene were too far south at first, I wonder if the models with this wave may be a little too far north?

I hope not, a Category 4/5 hurricane is not in my agenda for the first week of September.


Lol, I'm not even gonna begin to worry over whether the models have it too far north or south. Too far out. GFS recurves it way further east though.
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huge storm
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1017. Zaphod
Not only are NE soils softened by rain, but they've been shaken by the recent quake. Add saturating rains and some wind, and I fear a lot trees are going to come down.

Hopefully not too many will crush houses and people as they do so, but a lot will take down power lines.
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1015. unruly
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Ruly! Stay safe, bud.
I will be ok. It's my neighbors, I'm worried about. They don't seem to well prepared. They all think its just gonna be a little rain. Ive tried telling them. They don't heed.
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Quoting unruly:
Massachusetts, is already getting heavy precipitation.


Yep, the entire New England region is now beginning to feel the effects of Irene. And her center is still almost 500 miles away from Boston. That's what we have been stressing for days here...this is no ordinary Category 1 hurricane.
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Link

http://radblast-mi.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/radar /WUNIDS_map?station=AKQ&brand=wui&num=10&delay=50& type=N0R&frame=0&scale=1.000&noclutter=1&t=1314483 263&lat=36.89576340&lon=-76.20886230&label=Norfolk %2C+VA&showstorms=5&map.x=400&map.y=240¢erx=40 0¢ery=240&transx=0&transy=0&showlabels=1&sever e=0&rainsnow=1&lightning=1&smooth=0

Northern states are going to get more rain than there saturated soil can handle, along with the storm surge at its highest monthly tied. Even if She a tropical storm when She arrives.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well they have a high-end TS inland over Connecticut...they could still think it will be 75mph at Long Island, but that's an unimportant detail. No their prediction won't be too low because these bursts of stronger wind would come mostly in gusts, not necessarily sustained winds in a widespread fashion that would prompt an upgrade.
hey levi i know your focused on irene right now but do you know what the steering flow would be in the next 8 to 10 days from the euro and gfs because models develop a storm but i wannna know based on the euro and gfs steering flow where it should go. thanks
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Alright, here's the end of the 12Z Euro uploaded to imageshack..



Models with Irene were too far south at first, I wonder if the models with this wave may be a little too far north?

I hope not, a Category 4/5 hurricane is not in my agenda for the first week of September.
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takin the roids
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Alright, here's the end of the 12Z Euro uploaded to imageshack..

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Quoting TerraNova:


Doors? Not that I'm aware of. I've been through all of the tunnels and I've never seen anything that could cover them. I know the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels are equipped with massive water pumps for scenarios like this.


Hope nobody is in them when the surge comes.
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1006. barbamz
The big big picture
http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxlo op.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+12
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1005. Levi32
Quoting yonzabam:


So the NHC forecast for a TS at Long Island might be wrong?


Well they have a high-end TS inland over Connecticut...they could still think it will be 75mph at Long Island, but that's an unimportant detail. No their prediction won't be too low because these bursts of stronger wind would come mostly in gusts, not necessarily sustained winds in a widespread fashion that would prompt an upgrade.
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Quoting unruly:
We have been seeing outer clouds from Irene, all day. We are expecting The rain bands to start in a couple hours. She is HUGE!! we are in for a l'il ride here in the Northeast.


Ruly! Stay safe, bud.
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This reminds me of the late summer of 2009 when it was rainy and stormy and tropical cyclones(Danny)road up on the coast like Irene.I think this could perhaps mean a snowy winter for the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast.
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Quoting LoveObama:


She lives on Bay City Rd. if you are familiar with the area.


My inlaws live in Bayboro, which connects to Aurora via this road.

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1000. o22sail
Quoting largeeyes:


I lived in this area. I cant really recall seeing very many houses here a person could even easily get on their roof. How did Grandma get on the roof? A ladder? Nothing in the story makes sense.


I've been on this blog for almost 6 years to the day, just before the "K" storm. I've seen trolls of every description here, and for some reason I believe her. You can too.
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Quoting DVSmith:


Most of those Oaks on East Campus are nearing the end of their lifespan, having been planted in the 1920s and 1930s. A report, two years ago, indicated that 90% or more of the trees would need replacement due to advanced age and disease by 2030.

It looks as if this tree snapped, due to disease, rather than uprooting, as was so prevalent with downed trees during Fran.


The December 2002 Ice Storm also took out a great number of trees on East Campus. Yes, all those in the southeast making light of the NYC response to a Cat 1 hurricane can remember what happened in NC with 2 inches of ice...

I imagine many of the trees in the northeast are similarly weakened. Stay safe up north!
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Quoting Patrap:
wwebcam oceancitymd.gov/northdivision


Thanks for the link, but it won't load for me. Seems the surge has already breached the seawall.
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Massachusetts, is already getting heavy precipitation.
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Quoting summerland:

Except instead of one catastrophic knock-out, she packs in twenty thousand lighting-fast rabbit punches at once.
its very spread out, Areas around boston are already reporting street Flooding, only 30 hours to go, lol.
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Here's today's 12Z Euro run at 240 hours:



Recurving is inevitable here. Bermuda would have to watch out though.




remote linking is disabled can you plzs up lode that too imageshack that mode runs you can this post on too this blog it has too be uploded and many others are geting the same thing




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Quoting BostonWench:


Everyone deals with stress differently. And not everyone prays.


'twas but an example of one thing people do to help with stress...of course not everyone prays.

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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Here's today's 12Z Euro run at 240 hours:

Link

Recurving is inevitable here. Bermuda would have to watch out though.


After Irene 240 hours means absolutely nothing to me ;)
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting violet312s:


That site no longer allows hot linking.


i.e., the poster can see it but nobody else can.

Only way is to copy the image location, open new tab/window, paste.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Now that FL is safe, lots not interested. Don't see the usual ENC bloggers, prob. due to power outages.

Thanx to folks like Levi, Pat, Neo, and the regular others who are keeping us informed.
We have been seeing outer clouds from Irene, all day. We are expecting The rain bands to start in a couple hours. She is HUGE!! we are in for a l'il ride here in the Northeast.
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Quoting atmosweather:
Irene is starting to look more and more like a typical late fall Nor'easter rather than a 950 mb tropical cyclone. It's almost unfathomable. There is no central core wind maximum whatsoever, the highest winds don't begin to be felt until at least 75 miles from the center of the dry spot, which isn't even a proper eye because the air inside it is basically saturated (the HH noted a dew point exactly the same as the air temperature in the center). Since there is no drier air entraining into the outer portions of whatever you call the call, there is no subsidence and thus even the air ABOVE the surface in the center is saturated. It's one of the most incredible phenomena I've ever seen in any type of weather system.


I like your insights ... let's say that such big storms don't just go "poof," they die in fits and rages for quite a long time. Unusual storm I do agree - somebody will probably write a book or a dissertation about it.
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thats a gradiant
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Quoting MrNatural:
So why is the NE quadrant relatively quiet, while almost all the action is N & W of the COC?


Possibly a redistribution of precipitation to the western half due to interaction with land. The strongest winds still remain in the eastern half.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:
Here's today's 12Z Euro run at 240 hours:



Recurving is inevitable here. Bermuda would have to watch out though.
models had irene 3 days before she developed into florida thats why im not paying attention to track more on development
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Surfs up at VA beach!
Live streaming webcam
Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Irene packs more of a punch than most people think - that is from experience.

Except instead of one catastrophic knock-out, she packs in twenty thousand lighting-fast rabbit punches at once.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 85

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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